Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by Ursula Bach

Nils Mosh, Sound Recorder and Blogger, Essen

Essen native Nils Mosh has a creative way of capturing life in the European Green Capital 2017: he records sounds around the city and posts them on his blog, soundofessen.com. As a sound designer, composer and field recordist, Nils collects and archives field recordings which are used in sound effects for advertisement, computer games, theatre, movies and sound installations. His ‘Sound of Essen’ project gives us a little insight into the sometimes forgotten background sounds of a city.

Nils’ recordings, mostly taken from the Ruhr and Emscher rivers, capture an array of sounds, such as, birdsong, animal calls and flowing water. Not only does this provide listeners with a relaxing soundtrack and “paints an acoustic picture of the two rivers” it is also a novel approach to getting people thinking about noise and the urban environment.

There is increasing evidence that noise can significantly impact our health. Reducing noise pollution is included in the EU’s Environmental Action Programme ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’, aiming to decrease noise levels to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guideline levels. Noise is also one of the 12 environmental indicators for the European Green Capital Award.

Nils-Mosch_16-12-12_021As well as the ‘Sounds of Essen’ project, Nils considers winning the European Green Capital Award to have brought many benefits to Essen. When asked how he feels about Essen since it won the Award, Nils said “From the time of the opening ceremony of the European Green Capital Award, I felt a new joy from living in Essen.”

Nils work recording sounds has brought him to places around the city he had never been before. This has given him a new appreciation for Essen: “My work on the blog has brought me to places again and again, places which I probably would not have visited if Essen had not become European Green Capital. Every time I visit new areas I’ve been thrilled to find that there are still hidden parts of Essen that I hadn’t known before.”

Nils also believes that living in a Green Capital has made people think more about the environment, stating “the Green Capital is always a topic of discussion and perhaps brought about a new awareness of environmental issues in Essen.”

Nils-Mosch_16-12-12_031The best thing about living in Essen for Nils is being so close to nature, with lakes and forests just a bike ride away: “In Essen I can easily go from the city to the countryside and back again. I can enjoy city life, like going to the cinema, concerts and restaurants, and on the same day spend time relaxing in the forest or by the water. Everything is quickly accessible by bicycle.”

Essen’s transformation from a heavily industrialised city to a European Green Capital has given Nils a sense of hope for the future. He says, “This gives hope that the change to a more natural and therefore a more human-friendly way of life can also function globally…I am quite aware of how quickly the change from a ‘dirty’ coal town to a future-oriented green city can happen.”

Nils is looking forward to the benefits that the European Green Capital title will continue to bring in the future. One project Nils is anticipating in particular is the completion of the River Emscher renaturalisation, Once finished, it will bring a completely different quality of life to the people on its banks“, says Nils.